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Finance Shopping for Used Cars

When shopping for a pre-owned vehicle, you expect to see a lower sticker price that will save you some cash. While it’s possible to save money going this route, most used car buyers still need to consider financing. Shop around for your loan to make sure the terms are advantageous for you.

Shop Lenders

You have several different lender options when you want to finance a pre-owned vehicle. You can deal directly with a dealership or you can hammer out a loan with a credit union or traditional bank. A loan from a dealership might seem tempting because it’s so simple to orchestrate, but it’s likely that you will pay for this convenience with higher interest rates. A bank or a credit union will probably offer you more attractive rates and terms than a dealership. One option is to negotiate your best deal with a bank or credit union and then take these terms to a dealership to see if the dealer will match them.

Shop Loans Quickly

As you navigate the loan shopping process, don’t take your time. Optimally, you should complete this process within only one to two weeks. The reason for the fast-paced shopping is because every time you apply for financing, your credit score receives a small hit. These soft hits are nominal and they don’t stay on your credit report for long, but they can have an impact. The impact could be higher depending on the number of inquiries that hit your report. Keeping the time period relatively short will lessen the total effect on your credit score.

Check Current Rates

Interest rates will have a significant effect on the overall feasibility of used cars financing. Lenders set interest rates according to borrowers’ credit scores, so the better your score, the better your interest rate should be. Your score is determined by your payment history, your current debt load, and the time period of your total credit history.

Loan Term

The term of a loan has a big impact on the total price paid for used cars. A loan over a longer period of time will require the borrower to pay more in interest over the term of the financing. If you have the choice between a shorter and a longer term, you will probably notice that the longer term has lower monthly payments. While this can be tempting for your month-to-month budgeting, remember that you will be paying more overall for this longer period. Shortening the financing period will result in higher monthly payments, but you’ll pay less in interest to the lender.

Check Lenders

Before making a final decision, do your homework to check into the reputation of a company. Both the federal and state governments regulate lenders to ensure that they adhere to laws and regulations. Call your attorney general’s office to inquire about a specific company. The Better Business Bureau also has information about businesses that will enable you to know whether the company is reputable.

Shopping for financing can be as challenging as shopping for used cars, but the time is well spent to ensure that you get a fair deal.

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